By on February 7, 2020

Volkswagen bestowed the mildest of refreshes on its midsize Passat for 2020, but you’ll be forgiven if you didn’t notice. These days, people are too busy trying to tell the recently enlarged Jetta apart from its slightly beefier stablemate.

Even the previous Passat’s six-speed automatic carried over for 2020.

With Volkswagen charging ahead (ahem) on electrification, the automaker now admits the current Passat may be the last.

Speaking to Roadshow, Volkswagen of America Chief Operating Officer Johann de Nysschen admitted the company’s present course makes a next-generation, gas-powered Passat unlikely.

“Passat is a car that has a finite lifespan in terms of our planning,” de Nysschen said on the sidelines of this week’s Chicago Auto Show.

“It’s probably a reasonable assumption that when this Passat reaches the end of its lifecycle, its successor will probably not feature an internal combustion engine.”

Whether or not that successor retains the Passat name is an open question. Volkswagen’s dedicated electric MEB platform is said to spawn any number of bodystyles and variants, including higher-end sedans, but those revealed thus far all carry ID-specific nomenclature. The ID Vizzion concept is one such vehicle.

When prodded about naming a follow-up the “Pazzat,” de Nysschen, formerly president of Cadillac, remarked that he does harbor “a preference for weird alphanumerics.”

Introduced for the 2012 model year, the current-gen Passat soldiers on with its outdated platform, having watched most other VWs adopt the company’s newer MQB architecture. As sales decline, VW clearly felt the Passat wasn’t worth investing much money in. That makes the potential nameplate discontinuation unsurprising.

In 2019, Passat sales shrunk 66 percent compared to the year before; in 2018, sales fell 32 percent. A trend is afoot. Best guess for a successor? 2023.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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28 Comments on “Time Running Out for the Volkswagen Passat?...”


  • avatar

    Uncompetitive product finally takes dirt nap. Nobody will shed a tear.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    given Johan de Nysschen is running things, it probably means the Passat *name* will go in favor of some alphanumeric jumble. Infiniti has Q and QX, Cadillac has CT and XT, what would VW use?

  • avatar
    ajla

    “its successor will probably not feature an internal combustion engine.”
    “Best guess for a successor? 2023.”

    I have strong doubts that VW is going to have a viable, volume-priced mid-size EV sedan for 2023.

    I don’t hate the Passat but I think its good period was circa 2012 when it was 2.5L, TDI, 3.6L. VW can make a good turbo-4 but the 2.0T huffer going in the nonsporty models isn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I rented a 2019 model last year. It was highly ordinary.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I went to a smaller regional auto show a little bit ago, and checked out a VW Passat or Arteon (don’t remember which.) First thing that jumped out at me were the rattly sounding doors, probably due to the frameless windows. Certainly didn’t fit with the image of “solid” German construction.

  • avatar
    Mnemic

    I think VW is making a mistake of epic proportion going all EV.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It’s really a bet on the future regulatory and cultural climate, especially in Europe, since VW is a bit player in the US.

      Tesla got its start well before the green push got going, but they dominate the EV niche and stand to continue dominating unless someone takes an all-in approach to take some market share.

      The only player with the wherewithal and determination to do this is VW. Everybody else is just dabbling, and those efforts won’t amount to much.

      What will be interesting is this: In the near future, I’d expect to see VW lobbying *very hard* to ensure the regulatory climate goes their way. Otherwise, they’ll have bet the wrong way, and all the other dabblers will have been right. At this point, VW has no choice but to protect its investment.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        They can lobby and invest all they want. Until EVs yield some kind of obvious net positive value for the average person, they’re not going to catch on. EVs have to change lives the way stuff like televisions, refrigerators, regular cars etc did to get the kind of adoption VW is banking on. Sadly the climate crisis is not enough, even for people who believe it.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      it’s not like they haven’t done that before – epic diesel fail

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      Nothing wrong with going all EVs. But the tipping point for EV sales may be far enough in the future that VW may take crushing losses until then due to neglect of their IC cars.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “..naming a follow-up the “Pazzat,” de Nysschen, formerly president of Cadillac, remarked that he does harbor “a preference for weird alphanumerics.”

    E-KRaP 69x

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I finally saw the refreshed Passat in person and it actually looks good. To bad they didn’t keep the V6 and invest in a new interior and IT.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I keep being amazed at how these management types keep failing upward. If de Nysschen says something is not going to happen, there are better odds that it will.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    VW’s down marketed the Passat to compete with the lower price Korean/Japanese/usa sedans Unfortunately, they degraded the European Passat to the point of being uncompetitive.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    It may go away in North America, but–like the Focus and Fiesta–still be produced in Europe and sold in Europe, Asia and probably Australia. With the possibility of bringing it back here given a shift in demand for sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      There are pretty significant differences in the US and Euro Passat…so much so, that they won’t even sell the revised US-variant Jetta in Europe, as it is too close in size to the Passat. We were thinking of either a new Jetta or Passat to take with us to Germany, but decided against it, opting instead for a first gen Tiguan. I like VW, but both the Jetta and Passat are too close together for me to be seriously interested. I guess older Passat owners should be happy enough, as their vehicles will be almost indistinguishable from the 2020…

  • avatar
    Fleuger99

    This Passat is a shitty North American only model. If they imported the rest of the globe Passat they might see better sales. This thing is cost cutter to compete with base Camry and Accord.

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